The best ideas for a Chicago staycation
Whether you have extra vacation days to burn or need some time away from your cramped studio apartment, a Chicago staycation is the perfect solution. Without spending a fortune on flights, you'll be able to disconnect and recharge while enjoying the best things to do in Chicago, as well as the city's top restaurants and iconic attractions. We've checked out Chicago's very best hotels and found something for every itch—spas, cocktail bars, free amenities and seriously amazing views. Plus we've highlighted some fun activities to do around town. So what are you waiting for? Pack a bag and check in at these staycation-worthy destinations. RECOMMENDED: The best weekend getaways from ChicagoRECOMMENDED: The best day trips from ChicagoRECOMMENDED: The best Airbnbs in Chicago
Guide to Navy Pier Fireworks
When you hear the pops and booms over Lake Michigan, it's a sure sign that summer has arrived. You don't have to wait for 4th of July in Chicago for an amazing display of fireworks that light up the lake and cityscape. The colorful Navy Pier fireworks show is a great way to cap off your day at Chicago's beaches or exploring the best rooftop bars. What is the Navy Pier fireworks show? Twice a week during the summer, fireworks are set off from Navy Pier. Each show lasts 10 to 15 minutes. When are the Navy Pier fireworks? The fireworks begin Memorial Day weekend and end Labor Day weekend. They take place every Wednesday at 9:30pm and Saturday at 10:15pm. Where are the Navy Pier fireworks? Navy Pier is located on the shoreline of Lake Michigan at 600 E Grand Ave. You can get a good view of the fireworks from Navy Pier, the Chicago beaches, harbors, downtown rooftops and anywhere north or south along the shoreline near Navy Pier. Do the Navy Pier fireworks cost anything? Nope, the fireworks are completely free to watch.
Hot cocktails to drink this winter
Winter in Chicago lasts a long time, so thank goodness for high tea, cozy fireplaces and plenty of hot cocktails at Chicago restaurants and bars. This year, bartenders are bringing their A game, with innovative takes on classic drinks—Mexican Christmas punch, uniquely spiced hot toddies and tequila drinks with warm milk—designed to keep you toasty all winter long. RECOMMENDED: Things to do in Chicago this winter
The best party buses in Chicago
There are endless party destinations for Chicagoans, from the best beer bars to the city's constant stream of festivals and concerts. It only makes sense to arrive in style in a flashy party buses. Blast your favorite tunes and BYOB as your driver chauffeurs you through the streets. Chicago offers up everything from luxurious stretch limo buses to trolleys to a bus that looks like a beer barrel. Whether you're planning a bachelorette party or your own brewery tour, don't forget to tell your driver to make a pit stop for some deliciously greasy late night food.
Free things to do in Chicago in July
The list of things to do during summer in Chicago is endless, but our wallets may be a little bit more limited. So here is a list of events, concerts and shows that'll leave your bank account intact. Save your pennies with a night of Navy Pier Fourth of July Fireworks, see outdoor movies in Chicago's parks or try relaxing at the best rooftop bars with the extra money you've saved.
Rogers Park residents pick their favorite spots
Rogers Park is home to plenty of great shops, restaurants and bars—and its residents know all the hidden gems. From the area's best coffee shops to beautiful Chicago beaches and the best sushi restaurants, the locals know where to go. We reached out to a few residents for some great recommendations. RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Rogers Park
The best Chicago BYOB restaurants for Mexican food
Almost nothing is better than the wealth of great Mexican food in Chicago, except when the restaurant you sit down at also happens to be BYOB. When you're craving tacos but don't want to shell out for booze head to these Mexican restaurants in Chicago with your favorite craft beer or bottle of wine. Not sure what to drink? If you're going with beer, try German-style bocks, which match the chocolate, cinnamon, nuts and cumin in complex moles. If you can’t find one, try an American brown ale, or Negra Modelo works in a pinch. For wines, whites such as a Spanish albariño work with fresh, green chiles, while reds like Rioja complement with dishes made with dark, dried chiles.
Where to watch March Madness
Don't know where to watch March Madness? These Chicago restaurants and Chicago bars are the best spots for catching all the big games. And we've rounded up great deals on craft beer, Chicago pizza and wings during the NCAA tourney so you can watch hoops without dropping a lot of cash. You know, in case you don't win that office pool.
3 things we learned from Chicago’s year-round costume shop
RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Halloween in Chicago When a customer walks through the door at Chicago Costume, Courtland Hickey never knows what to expect. He grew up in the shop after his mom, Mary Hickey Panayotou, started it in 1976, and now he’s the general manager. Over the years he has heard it all, so a customer’s request is never as weird as they think it is. A group of men looking for green Elvis wigs? No problem. We recently caught up with the pros at one of the city's best Halloween stores to learn more of the tricks—and treats—of the business. Photograph: Sara Freund 1. Bagged costumes are out, faux mustaches are in Most people these days are interested in accessorizing with funny hats, fake mustaches, makeup or wigs. No one really wants a costume in a bag anymore. Hickey spends a ton of time researching what’s popular—checking out what's up at C2E2, Wizard World and in comic books and movies. This year he’s prepared for Suicide Squad requests. The movie may not have done so well at the box office, but it’s filled with a gold mine of characters like Harley Quinn, Deadshot and Captain Boomerang. The store has a huge selection of Game of Thrones and Star Wars costumes, too, including a serious Stormtrooper getup that you can rent. Hickey's own mother makes many of the custom costumes, including niche ideas like a costume based on Dave Chappell’s Prince basketball sketch. Photograph: Sara Freund 2. This shop has tons of tricks up its sleeves Working at a c
An 'Alice in Wonderland'-themed bar opens later this month in Old Town
The Rabbit Hole (1208 N Wells St.) will be joining the Old Town bar scene later this month with its playful twist on classic cocktails. Guests will notice a subtle Alice in Wonderland theme throughout the bar, from the white rabbit portraits to the charming glassware. The restaurant and bar is set to officially open on September 29 but it has quietly been open for the past month. The food menu focuses on light bites and sports bar fare, so guests can expect burgers, wings, sliders and salads. There are plenty of TVs throughout the bar for game days and games like Jenga for patrons to play while they enjoy their drinks. The Rabbit Hole will concentrate on cocktails, many of them utilizing whiskey or bourbon. The bar offers 25 beers on tap with craft beer selections from Two Brothers, Goose Island and Surly. There will be a few options for wine, available by the glass or the bottle. The beverage director, Carlos Guerra, developed the cocktail menu with the neighborhood in mind. “We wanted to give young professionals and local people a place to enjoy simple, quality cocktails,” he said. One of Guerra’s favorite drinks on the menu is the whiskey-based cocktail, What Dreams Are Made Of. The tart, refreshing drink is mixed with lime, berries, mint and topped with a gummy bear garnish. A more boozy drink is the Old But Fashioned, made with rye whiskey, demerara and two distinct bitters. His take on the Moscow Mule is the called the White Rabbit on a Dirty Mule, which includes mezca
Go camping on the 606 with a free tent this weekend
Turn the Bloomingdale Trail into your personal campground this Saturday with a free overnight camping expedition. Say goodbye to summer with stargazing and s’mores on the western end of the trail from 4pm Saturday to 11am Sunday. There's no need to buy a tent, or go digging in your parents garage for an old one—camping equipment will be provided for guests free of charge. The situation is also probably a bit more glamping than camping, a portable toilet will be available, so you don't need to wander off the trail with your own roll of toilet paper and hope for the best. Security will also be provided. There are only a few spots left and you’ll only have until tomorrow night to register online for the camping event, sponsored by Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail and the Park District. After you’ve had your fill of ghost stories and Chicago wilderness, check out our complete guide to the 606 for nearby brunch spots, shopping and more. Want more? Sign up here to stay in the know.
A 'portal' to the world will open in Daley Plaza in October
A golden portal is opening in Daley Plaza in October—and no, it doesn’t lead to the Upside Down. The portal is actually a shipping container equipped with technology to connect people across the world in Mexico, Palestine, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Myanmar and now here in Chicago. The portal program, created by Shared Studios, sets up shipping containers with immersive audio and video technology so that it feels like you’re face-to-face with someone who is thousands of miles away. It’s like Skype on steroids. Chicago Ideas will curate sessions, such as a live collaboration between artists in Mexico City and Chicago. One-on-one time slots with people at other portal locations will also be available for reservation. Each individual session will be limited to three people in the portal at a time, so that it remains an intimate experience. The portal in Chicago is hosted by Chicago Ideas and will be open to the public during Chicago Ideas Week, from October 17-23. A full calendar of Chicago Ideas Week events and the curated sessions can be found here. “Chicago Ideas Week is all about connecting people to inspire action,” Sona Jones, marketing director for Chicago Ideas Week, told Time Out Chicago. “It’s so remarkable to walk into a box and be connected with someone so intimately across the world.” Some of the curated sessions will include live readings of true stories from people in Yangon, Myanmar and Chicago entrepreneurs will lead a workshop for university students in Herat, Afgha
Looking back at the Chicago Marathon
If you’re a runner, you’re probably well aware of the grueling 26.2-mile race that is quickly approaching. This October will be the 39th annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon, a hard-earned, blister-filled tradition in our city. Whether you run or watch, it's easily one of Chicago’s best events this fall. Below, get a glimpse of what this tradition looked like when horses and carriages filled the streets compared to the massive (and colorful) event it has since become. Circa 1910 Photograph: Stephen Jenson and courtesy of the Chicago History Museum In this photo, marathon runners J.T. Armour and Alban Lahner round the corner on the lakefront route with the pack of athletes as judges and fans stand on the sidelines—except for one eager fellow who's jumped in to race behind them. The very first marathon in Chicago took place some years before in 1905. At that race, nearly 100,000 spectators watched underdog Rhud Metzner finish first in Washington Park. And with that, Chicago began the grueling 26.2-mile tradition. However, running didn't really take off as a popular pastime until 1972, when the U.S. won gold in the Olympic Marathon. 2016 Photograph: Jaclyn Rivas Today, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon attracts everyone from elite athletes to casual runners to marathon vets with something to prove. Nearly 45,000 runners descend on downtown Chicago for the race through 29 neighborhoods each year. Just last year, an 80-year-old man finished his 17th Bank of America C
Trevor Noah talks honesty and comedy in advance of Chicago Humanities Festival
In his heart, Trevor Noah is a storyteller. Whatever platform—a stage, a screen, a conversation—he connects with people. In his first book, Born a Crime, to be released in November, Noah finds a new way to tell stories. The book is not a cathartic expression of extreme poverty and dark circumstances in apartheid-era Johannesburg, where Noah grew up. It’s about the small moments, his family and the politics that shaped him there. “You can be extraordinary in the most ordinary circumstances,” Noah says. “And I’m not talking about me. [Rather], the stories of my mom and what I learned from her, a powerful woman who went and fought against the odds.” In the book, the 32-year-old Noah, who took over The Daily Show in 2015 and appears at this season’s Chicago Humanities Festival, explains how he got his name—one you don't hear much in South Africa. In fact, it was more common to be named Hitler or Mussolini, he says, a phenomenon tied to how many black Africans were denied education during apartheid. People wanted famous names for their kids, and Hitler, well, he was well known. But Noah’s mom chose a name untethered to anything in her world. “She picked something that could shape itself; she was trying to set me apart,” he says. In South Africa, Noah started doing stand-up on a lark when friends told him he should take the stage at a local comedy club. But he wasn't nervous. “[Comedy] is just something I understand. I can hear the rhythm of jokes like a musician can hear notes.”
This Chicago restaurant created the most insane milkshake you’ll ever eat
This is the boozy milkshake that will up your Instagram game right now. Public House (400 N State St.) recently unveiled its decadent Vanilla Cake Shake—an unusual mix of ice cream, craft beer, sprinkles, icing and, well, a giant slab of cake. I mean, what are diets? When we first read “comprised of ice cream, mixed in with craft beer,” we admit, we were hesitant. I mean, we love craft beer, and we even paired Girl Scout cookies with beer not too long ago, but sometimes the beer-and-sweets combo can be a bit much. But hell, why not? Pastry Chef Amy Arnold and the beer-centric Public House had been looking for a way to collaborate, and the Cake Shake result is definitely over the top. Choose from the Chocolate Cake Stout or the Vanilla Cake Stout, the former made with Boulder Shake Chocolate Porter, a robust beer with flavors of dark chocolate, coffee and caramel. Then comes the chocolate ice cream, chocolate sprinkles and slice of rich chocolate cake on top. Did we mention this has chocolate? The Vanilla Cake Stout uses JP’s Casper White Stout, a beer that looks like an IPA but tastes like a stout. The creamy beer uses Pilsen malt and has notes of sweet white chocolate and caramel. Mix that with vanilla ice cream and top it with a large slice of confetti buttercream cake, and we’re hooked. These indulgent, gorgeous shakes are available for $12, so the next time you're out at Public House, you might want to save room for dessert.
Honey Butter Fried Chicken is offering up $3 birthday specials
Honey Butter Fried Chicken is celebrating it’s third birthday in just a few weeks. On September 14, guests can look forward to $3 specials all day long, including $3 front porch cocktails and $3 Birthday Dump Cake. The restaurant will also offer three pieces of its signature fried chicken for the price of two pieces ($8.50). The new front porch cocktail, Finn’s G&T, is this fried chicken joint’s boozy birthday gift to you. The gin-based collaboration with Chicago Distilling Company is mixed with house-made celery tonic and Szechuan peppercorn. Mark your calendar, wish these guys a happy birthday and treat yo’ self to some salty, sweet fried chicken. Want more? Sign up here to stay in the know.
A topless march is coming to Chicago on Sunday
Some Chicagoans will risk baring it all on Go Topless Day, which returns to the city on Sunday, August 28. It's summer, you might as well #freethenipple while it's still warm out. The national annual event takes issue with cities that enforce laws against women exposing their nipples, but have no problem when men do the same. It appears that Chicago is one of those places. Last year, the city filed a motion to dismiss a federal lawsuit over the right of women to go topless in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Sonoko Tagami, who is a passionate supporter of Go Topless Day. If you choose to go topless with other supporters along the lakefront this year, you could be arrested, ticketed for indecent exposure and ordered to pay more than $100 in fines. This year’s protest falls just two days after Women’s Equality Day, which commemorates the anniversary of when women earned the right to vote. To join the event, head to North Avenue Beach just north of the boathouse at 1pm on Sunday. Despite the strong political tone, the event will be more of a celebration. As long as you wear an “opaque covering” on your nipples you shouldn’t have too much trouble. Perhaps you'll opt for glittery nipple tassels or colorful body paint? Either way, don’t forget your sunscreen, ladies.
Metra adds a ton more free Wi-Fi hotspots by October
Finally, after six months in soft launch, Metra will add more Wi-Fi hotspots to its train cars by the end of October, according to an announcement Wednesday. Metra began testing Wi-Fi on a dozen cars back in February. The service was successful, so 50 additional cars will get equipped with wireless internet. (The timeline for the rollout wasn't clear from Metra's announcement; we've asked for more details.) Look out for the orange decals that will mark the trains with hotspots. The annual cost for all 62 hotspots will average out to $186,000. Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi won’t be fast enough for you to stream your favorite Netflix show, but you will be able to check email and browse webpages. Last year, Metra installed free charging stations and free Wi-Fi in the waiting areas at all five downtown stations. Hopefully on your next trip to the ’burbs, you won’t get stuck on a Wi-Fi-less car.
Where to eat delicious waffles on National Waffle Day
We don't even have to think about it—waffles are hands down the best breakfast food. They can be perfectly sweet, amazingly savory or both. They are fluffy vessels for berry compotes, chocolate spreads, fresh fruits and ice cream, and they're the perfect way to soak up all that maple bacon syrup. We're indulging in our favorite waffles in the city to celebrate National Waffle Day today. 1. Chicago Waffles Head to the South Loop to get a taste of both kinds of Belgian waffles. The one most Americans are familiar with is the crisp and airy Brussels waffle. The Liége waffle is a little more dense and sugary. If you can’t decide between the two, get the waffle flight and top it with blackberries, strawberries, bananas or hazelnut chocolate. $6.95–$13.95 2. Jam This Logan Square eatery has an inventive daily waffle, which is always changing. In the past we’ve loved the buckwheat waffle with whitefish in a quail egg mushroom sauce or the blue cheese waffle with fried chicken. Market price 3. Little Goat Diner You’ve got to order up a batch of Fat Elvis Waffles. There is seriously nothing more heavenly than the banana peanut butter-butter combo. Top that with bacon maple syrup and it’ll be impossible to eat waffles anywhere else. $13 4. Longman & Eagle Here, the fried chicken and waffles is topped with sweet potato and pork belly hash. Pour some maple syrup over this dish and you’ve got the perfect combo of sweet and savory. $14 5. Luella’s Southern Kitchen Short of a trip to Tennes
7 Chicago sports rituals you won't see anywhere else
Sure, Chicago has plenty of things you’ll only find right here—from the tamale man to Shit Fountain. And when it comes to Chicago sports, there’s no exception to these quirks. We have die-hard celebrity fans like Bill Murray, we celebrate with the Bucket Boys after a win and we even have fireworks shows after White Sox games. When you have such passionate fans, it's no surprise that weird traditions and rituals arise. Here are seven sports rituals you can expect to see the next time you head to one of these outings in Chicago. 1. “Go, Cubs, Go” song If you grew up watching the Cubs, then you know every word to this masterpiece written in 1984 by Steve Goodman. It was so catchy it became the Cubs’ official victory song. Goodman was known as a lifelong Cubs fan and also wrote a not-so-nice song about the lovable losers before “Go, Cubs, Go,” but it was banned from Wrigley Field. Probably because it referred to the team as the “doormat of the National League” and the field as an “ivy-covered burial ground.” Ouch. 2. Rally caps While this tradition may have started with the New York Mets, Cubs fans take this good luck strategy seriously. When the Cubs are down in the 8th or 9th, you’ll see every serious Cubs fan, including old folks and babies, flip their caps inside-out and pray for a come-from-behind victory. 3. The “W” flag What does a big, bold “W” have to do with the Cubs? It’s our victory flag. You’ll see it in the window of every Wrigleyville apartment and storefront. Afte